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8 June 2005, 12:21 pm
Racing Gets Underway In Poland
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470 European Championship 2005
Gdynia, Poland

Strong wind from the north of about 15-20 knots and clear skies welcomed the sailors on the first racing day of ISAF Grade C1 2005 470 European Championship in Gdynia, Poland. Over 100 of the world's best 470 crews are preparing for the battle to claim the European title
The scheduled time for the first warning signal of the Championship was 1100 hours local time today. Today, tomorrow and Friday are set aside for the qualifying series with the final series from 11-14 June. Yesterday the opening ceremony for the Championship took place.

124 crews from 31 nations are on the entry list to contest the Championship with sailors from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Myanmar, Pakistan and the USA joining the European teams. Unsurprisingly Poland has the largest number of athletes in the Championship with 21 crews entered, although not amongst those names is Poland's Olympic representatives, Thomasz STANCZYK and Tomasz JAKUBIAK.

The Polish challenge in the 470 men fleet will be lead by Patryck PIASECKI with crew Jacek PRZYBYLAK, who recently won the ISAF Grade 3 Polish Yachting Association Trophy held in Puck. Katarzyna TYLINSKA and Zuzanna GLADYSZ won in the women's fleet in Puck and have also had top ten finishes in the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères and the ISAF Grade 2 470 Spring Cup in Toulon, France, both held in April. TYLINSKA has steadily climbed the ISAF World Sailing Rankings and in the last release of 1 June, hit a performance best by entering the top world's 20. She has a terrific record sailing in Gdynia, having won three ISAF Graded events here already.

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Mathew BELCHER is on great
form and looks set to be a
leading contender
© Sport The Library
Aside from the Polish entries, in the 470 men fleet four of the top five teams in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings are on the entry list for the competition, including new number ones, Gideon KLIGER and Ehud GAL (ISR), winners at Hyères earlier in the year. Eugen BRASLAVETS with crew Igor MATVYENKO (UKR) lie right behind the Israelis in the Rankings and a good result here could see the 1996 Olympic gold medallists claim the top spot when the Rankings are next released on 29 June. Britain's 2004 Olympic silver medallists, Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD come to Poland as defending champions having won in Warnemunde, Germany last year. The British team also includes Johnny MCGOVERN and crew Tom MAPPLEBACK. MCGOVERN finished third here in last year's Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in the 420. In his first ISAF Graded event, the young Brit sailed well to end the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta in Medemblik at the end of May in 28th place.

After winning in Medemblik, Mathew BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS (AUS), will enter the Championship brimming with confidence. The Australians also won the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Melbourne Regatta, at the beginning of the year, although they have yet to finish inside the top ten of a European or World Championship.

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Pippa WILSON is one of the
sailors who was here at the
Youth Worlds last year
© Mark Cole
There will also be strong Australian competition in the women's fleet with two time winners and current champions of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in the 420, Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON (AUS). The young pair are moving steadily and impressively into the senior circuit and last month secured second place in Medemblik. They know the waters of Gdynia well - this is where they won their second Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in the 420 last year. Pippa WILSON (GBR) also sailed here last year, claiming third place behind the Australians. With crew Sheena CRAIG the young Brit also seems to have moved effortlessly into the senior circuit and has top ten finishes in Hyères, Medemblik and the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy to her name.

They will all have a tough challenge facing them in ISAF World Sailing Rankings' leaders, Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadège DOUROUX (FRA). The French pair have been on top of their game in the last few months with dominating victories in both Hyères and Medemblik. 2004 Olympic bronze medallists, Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON (SWE) have only competed in one ISAF Graded event since their third place in Athens and will be looking to outdo PETITJEAN and DOUROUX and make an instant return to the limelight in Gdynia.

The lack of current 470 Olympic champions is tempered by the presence of 2004 Olympic gold medallist in the Europe, Siren SUNDBY (NOR). After switching to the 470 with crew Karianne MELLEBY (NOR), the young Norwegian has seen a steady improvement in her results with tenth place in Medemblik her most impressive performance to date. Teja CERNE (SLO) is another convert from the Europe and the Slovenian Olympian, with her sister, Alja CERNE as crew, will be another competitor in Gdynia.

ISAF. Image, Can anyone stop ISAF World Sailing Rankings' leaders, Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadège DOUROUX?:© Mark Cole
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